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gfron1

Southwest Pop-Up Road Trip (AZ, NM)

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To say I'm exhausted is an understatement. The cooking is normal for me, the unloaded a 15-person van full of food and cooking equipment multiple times a day is not. I'm achey today, and we're getting ready to load up and head to Scottsdale.

 

Last night worked out a lot of kinks for us. We packed the van very differently last night, so it should be more efficient this morning when we arrive up North. On the menu, much of my prep is done so the workload will be less...first days of menus for me are very challenging because there are so many components. 

Some commentaries of the food - I need major refinement in my first course, the soup. It was good and spot on with taste for my purpose of a first course, but my foraged poppy seed cracker gave me fits in my pasta roller. The elk heart I knew was going to be a tough road, but techinically its a big boys dish - meaning, the technique used to make it is pretty epic, and I pulled it off without breaking a sweat. That said, FauxPas' comment about salt we heard from a few. Interestingly, I won't be upping the salt, but tapering the salt in the previous course. The elk and yolk flavors were so complex, yet subtle, and really are masked with even the slightest touch of salt. After word came back about the salt, I and my helpers tasted it (having not eaten the other courses) and we were all in love with the complexity. IDK, maybe it'll be an adjustment to the previous and a very minor to the elk...or maybe I move the course somewhere else in the menu. 

I have a former cook from Clio in Boston helping me in Scottsdale, so he'll have something to say about it all. 

 

Well, one down, 6 to go.

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FauxPas, first off, I'm glad you're feeling better.  The flu this year is nasty nasty.  Hits fast and hard.

 

Secondly, I'm pea green with envy!  Everything looks delicious.  Thank you for the pictures!

 

Thank you Shelby! It was indeed a nasty flu and came on despite the flu shot we got! We were both really sick for a little over 2 weeks, and it feels so good to be up and about again, feeling relatively normal. Our temps are up to 75F yesterday/today, it's a pleasure to be outside in the sun and warmth. 

 

Rob, your comments about reducing the salt in the dish prior to the elk might be the ticket, we thought some of the first courses might have been just a tad on the salty side. We still adored them. The soup and cracker was so tasty, and we all raved about the gnocchi and beet, and the amaranth course also. Really, it was all delicious. And fun. Kenny was a very entertaining sommelier. 

 

We are now planning a group visit to The Curious Kumquat in Silver City! 

 

 

 

Wasn't there a bit of foraged kumquat in there somewhere? 

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So Kenny...he was a great surprise! I have never worked with a magician stripper sommelier! He was fantastic.

 

And yes, we found a kumquat tree just around the corner and the owner let us strip it bare, so it became a kumquat chutney. I don't like urban foraging but they were kumquats...how could I pass that up!

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So Kenny...he was a great surprise! I have never worked with a magician stripper sommelier! He was fantastic. 

 

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I can certainly imagine how tired you must be, gfron, especially from the packing and unpacking. I used to do cooking 'demos' (that were really full dinners for 20, executed entirely in front of my audience) and the very worst part was the lugging of all the equipment (and I mean all of it - nothing was available where I did these - pots, pans, induction burners, electric appliances, utensils, even plates, glasses and cutlery) and ingredients into and out of my vehicle - and then cleaning it up and packing it out again afterward - in mid-winter in the north. The rest was fun and easy by comparison. Try to take it easy whenever you can. You have a very hectic schedule.

That said though, that dinner sounds (and looks - thanks, FauxPas, for the pics and 'review') absolutely wonderful! You should be very proud of what you have and are still accomplishing. Take care on the road.


Edited by Deryn (log)
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We also wanted to mention how delightful Sonia is - she is a sea of calm in a rushed world, but she moves quickly. There is a sweetness and patience there that is rare in people in general, but she also is very articulate and knowledgeable and yet, not afraid to admit when she doesn't know something. She was a real delight. 

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She is the best. Really great server.  I'm in ABQ now. Stopped by Laguna Burger for their award winning green chile cheese burger, which I preferred to our local Sparky's. It'll be nice to be doing 2 nights in ABQ so i don't have to pack and unpack that van again. That's the part of this trip that's killing us...so much packing and unpacking. We're all kinda lost and googly headed. It feels like Tucson was a week ago but it was just two days...minds melting before us. Tomorrow I get to work with one of my favorite local chefs - Jason Michael. Should be fun.

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We returned to Silver City at 2 am on Tuesday and I was back in the kitchen at 7 am for my regular service. Just getting a day off now to reflect.

10425384_10152988923704845_5350147995484

(My daily notes)

 

First, only Santa Fe was not sold out, and that was frustrating, but understandable since we only secured a location 10 days before the event. It was too bad though since it was a Saturday night and should have been an easy sell. I mean, really, if I can pack the house in Las Cruces on a Monday, I sure as hell should be able to do the same on a Santa Fe Saturday.

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(My nightly selfie in a new kitchen - this one was Cruces)

 

One of the fun and challenging parts of this trip was the new kitchen every night. I cooked in commercial kitchens in Tucson and ABQ, but all of the others were private homes. Of the private homes, two kitchens were bigger than what I cook at in my restaurant, and one was very, very small. I think my work was easier than my dish washer's! In Santa Fe the oven was a super fancy expensive brand new thing and it kept shutting down on us...good thing I brought my blow torch and a couple of induction burners.

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(Having beer for breakfast in ABQ at Red Door Brewery - trying to live the rockstar life but feeling too old)

 

Our daily routine was fairly regimented. Up around 7, on the road by 8, on location by noon, cooking by 1, other staff out shopping for me or getting me lunch, all back on site at 4 for set up, dinner at 6, cleanup and tear down and out the door at 11. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat...  Our host in Scottsdale and TorC put us up in guest rooms which was really nice.

10896933_10152979076034845_6252604898237

(Plating space was always a rarity - this is ABQ using an AC unit and prep table; plating on our Arizona petrified wood plates)

 

The menu was untested and brand new for the trip. That first day in Tucson I had so much prep to do, but by the second night of ABQ we were so refined in our prep that I was down to a leisurely afternoon of work...by my hyperactive standards.

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(ABQ with Chef Jason Michael Salvagno - a rockstar for sure! ABQ, unbeknownst to me, used the dinner to promote a reinvigoration of downtown nightlife - speeches and VIPs)

 

A few interesting things that were unexpected. Each town I had chefs asking to work with me - how cool was that! In Tucson, ABQ, and Santa Fe I had a one-day stage. In every city I had the host and their friends standing around our peeking in. I'm very sociable, but not when I'm working...then its heads down, fingers back and blistering pace, so onlookers were fun but a bit of a challenge for me.

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(The most challenging dish of the trip - elk heart crudo, savory popotillo blueberry internally poached yolk (Axta yolk), salt cured blueberries)

 

And I think I lost something in every city we visited - Tucson (phone charger), Scottsdale (my pillow), ABQ (a few prep inserts), SF (a cooler), Cruces (my chocolate tupperware). Nothing important and I got my pillow sent to me :)

10926204_10152971755079845_8302170472626

(The hit of the trip - foraged acorn croquette with fried moss)

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Those photos are great fun! Thanks for posting captions (small though they were) for each photo. I'd have been asking whether that was truly petrified wood otherwise. Now I'll ask, instead, how it got that glossy surface. Is it that highly polished, or is there a chemical surface on it? Are they commercially available somewhere?

Every plate showed is beautiful. I'll bet it was as good to the taste and olfactory senses as to the eye.

Thanks also for the funny stories. It's very cool that ABQ decided to use you to help kick off their downtown revival.

Excellent trip report, gfron1. Thanks very much for sharing with the rest of us.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Thanks Nancy. The plates are polished not treated. They run them through a polisher like they do their other stones. And you can buy them online. I wanted local, but there are a few sources.

Now I'll ask, instead, how it got that glossy surface. Is it that highly polished, or is there a chemical surface on it? Are they commercially available somewhere?


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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Did you break-even on the trip?

Even if not it sounds like the advertising was worth it.

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Did you break-even on the trip?

Even if not it sounds like the advertising was worth it.

The plates that I bought were in the $40 range which is pretty standard for restaurant china. And I can't compare that price to the overall revenue, although, yes, we did more than break even. $100 per person, 24 ppl per site, 6 dinners. But I will say my Instagram and Facebook sites got all sorts of new followers, so it was worth it on many levels.

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Would you/will you do it again?  :smile:

 

Is it possible to get a list of the wines served in Tucson? 


Edited by FauxPas (log)

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When shopping for the plates there are a few factors. First is size. The bigger, the more expensive. Second, is completeness. The more complete the more expensive - I like the broken ones - more interesting to me. Third is location. I saw Madagascar (?) ones for $30. Mine are avg 6" diameter, broken, Arizona. Here is where I bought much of mine (http://shop.jimgrayspetrifiedwoodco.com/)

Would you/will you do it again?  :smile:

 

Is it possible to get a list of the wines served in Tucson? 

Kenny's notes:

Wines for the dinner:
1st.Veuve Devian Blanc de Blanc. (elegant, creamy, w nice acidity)
2nd. Maryhill Viogner (notes of honeysuckel w rich viscosity)
3rd Golden Rule Lucky Prospector (AZ grown and bottled I work w this winery and it's my signature blend!!!! 80% Sangiovese 20% Syrah)
4th Peltier Station Petite Sirah (big, rich, inky, unctuous w aromatics of bacon fat)
5th. Bonifacio Alicante Boushet (our fullest bodied wine for the evening, notes of basil and stewed tomato on the nose, w notable tannin structure)

 

Kenny will be doing a dinner with me on the 7th in Silver City - 10 courses, all chocolate, nothing sweet.

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And I didn't answer the question of whether I would do it again. Today I say hell no, but time will heal all wounds. We did it because January is such a slow month for us and we made decent money. Was the effort worth it - barely. Was the good will worth it - absolutely. I will skip TorC next time and probably do 2 nights per city - easier on the body if we only have to load/unload once every other day.

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What is the bright green orb on the pet. wood?  

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Rob,

Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us. Having traveled to local Eggfests to cook and to various other venues to teach chocolate-making techniques with Kerry Beal I know something about packing and unpacking tons of equipment and ingredients! I cannot imagine doing it day after day.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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